Richard Hillyer

Hillyer Headshot

Richard Hillyer | Professor

Specializes in Renaissance literature and poetry.

HUMB 278  |  460-6539  |

Four Augustan Science Poets CoverFour Augustan Science Poets: Abraham Cowley, James Thomson, Henry Brooke, Erasmus Darwin. Anthem Impact, 2020.

Focusing on four poets who because of their distinctive profiles illustrate especially well the opportunities and pitfalls of writing science poetry during the long eighteenth century Four Augustan Science Poets offers numerous close readings that shed light not only on standard versions of the sublime but also on these idiosyncratic variants: the apologetic (Abraham Cowley), the illicit (James Thomson), the perverse (Henry Brooke) and the atheistic (Erasmus Darwin). Recurrent concerns include the similarities and differences among the languages of poetry, science and religion. Of the poets analyzed all but Thomson wrote extensive notes to accompany their lines, permitting further comparison of languages, in this case between the same authors’ poetry and prose. Topics covered include the Royal Society, the scientific revolution, astronomy, botany, chemistry, telescopy, microscopy, the anthropic principle, the clockwork universe, evolution, intelligent design, comets, meteors, light, the aurora borealis, the sun, the moon, the milky way, analogies, mimetic prosody, poetic diction and the value to poetry or science of fable and myth.

Auden's Syllabic Verse CoverAuden's Syllabic Verse. Lexington Books, 2019.

Much of the poetry written by W. H. Auden between 1939 and the time of his death consists of syllabic verse, or lines arranged in accordance with a predetermined syllable-count but no fixed number or distribution of stresses. This book presents a comprehensive, in-depth analysis of his many and widely varied syllabics, grouping them primarily by the formal sub-categories to which they belong (as measured by line-length, stanza-type, or some other aspect of their overall design). With this approach the book clarifies the dynamic range and technical inventiveness of Auden’s syllabics. It also shows how his work of compares with that of Robert Bridges and Marianne Moore, two pioneers in the writing of English syllabic whose verse he was familiar with. 

Divided between Carelessness and Care CoverDivided between Carelessness and Care: A Cultural History. Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.

The concept of "care" defines our humanity. Covering topics as diverse as familial care, medical care, artistic care, scientific care, and various other permutations of the term, this book examines the word and concept of "care" from a cultural perspective, tracing its use throughout literature and history.

Divided between Carelessness and Care CoverSir Philip Sidney, Cultural Icon. Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.

This study analyzes Sir Philip Sidney's reputation from his own day to the present by discussing his reception in the work of authors as diverse in time and type as Sir Fulke Greville, Christopher Hill, Charles Lamb, Edmund Waller, and Thomas Warton the elder. 

Divided between Carelessness and Care CoverHobbes and His Poetic Contemporaries: Cultural Transmission in Early Modern England. Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.

Ranging from Jonson to Rochester and including several critically neglected figures, select poetic contemporaries variously illuminate the scope of Hobbes's writing and the reach of his influence, in turn shedding diverse lights on the nature of their own work.


  • "Let Me Weigh the Counts: Auden's Horatian Syllabics." Versification 5, 2010: 11-26.
  • "Hobbes and Sex." Hobbes Studies 22, 2009: 29-48.
  • "Hobbes's Explicated Fables and the Legacy of the Ancients." Philosophy and Literature 28 (2), 2004: 269-83.
  • "Keith Thomas's 'Definitive Refutation' of C.B. Macpherson: Revisiting 'The Social Origins of Hobbes's Political Thought.'" Hobbes Studies 15, 2002: 32-44.
  • "Edmund Waller's Sacred Poems." SEL 39 (1), 1999: 155-69.
  • "Some Current Publications." Restoration 15 (2), 1991: 111-37.
  • "In More than Name Only: Jonson's  'To Sir Horace Vere.'" The Modern Language Review 85 (1), 1990: 1-11.
  • "Better Read than Dead: Waller's 'Of English Verse.'" Restoration 14 (1), 1990: 33-43.


  • "Authorization and the Royal Society." ANQ 23 (1), 2010: 31-33.